Gers: what is the future of the recreation center Bois d’Auch, which has been abandoned for years?

the important thing
The former Auch reception and leisure facility no longer meets standards and has remained closed for almost a decade. The municipality recovered it and today hopes that a project will flourish there in accordance with the preserved environment.

Thousands of little Auscitains have kept wonderful memories of this place. Completed in 1981, the Bois d’Auch recreation center was intended to allow the city’s children to breathe some fresh air in the fresh air. Today, the abandoned place is waiting for a second birth, which is coming slowly, much to the misfortune of the municipality.

Nature has regained its rights to mini golf.

Nature has regained its rights to mini golf.

The equipment was built at a time when outdoor recreation was on the rise. The construction, with these triangular slopes typical of the early 1970s, and the multiple buildings, were designed in an exceptionally bucolic setting, a fantastic playground far from any built-up area. And his virtues became the main disadvantages.

The rest of the second era

Thus, the space, which on the ground represents 600 m2, has as many as 27 different floors, which makes it completely unsuitable for the current traffic standards of PMR – “Persons with reduced mobility”. Rearranging everything would have a significant cost.

The second original sin of the recreation center is its very design. At the end of the 1970s, when the center was designed, we didn’t really look at the energy bill… “At that time, oil was not expensive,” laughs Sébastien Blanc, general manager of city services. Auch town hall. Today it would be complicated and very expensive to restore heat or cold. There is electric heating, but that would be a shame!”

Bucolic surroundings, but dilapidated premises.

Bucolic surroundings, but dilapidated premises.

What is even more important is that the use of the center no longer corresponds to the reality of 2023. It is located almost 6 km from the town hall, which is why it was necessary to establish a collection service. In addition to the pollution and fuel costs caused by such transport, this system had the disadvantage of forcing the bus to wait for latecomers at the regrouping point… “The result: the day started at 10 o’clock”, observes Sébastien Blanc. Today, we have reinstalled much more efficient centers in the city, where children are welcome in better conditions, close to sports fields, cultural activities or swimming pools. And the kids can catch up as they go.”

A fate that is closely examined

For years, activity in the center of Auch Bois has dwindled to a crawl. Only a few animation executive training courses, mostly outdoors as the facilities are not up to standard, but this is now very rare.

While the center was still open, it fell under the responsibility of “School Fun and Extracurricular Activities” of Grand Auch in the heart of Gascony. The closure prompted Agglo to hand over its management to Auch. “Today we are wondering about his destination,” admits the DGS. It is impossible to sell it for any item! We want the project to be in harmony with the Auch forest, which represents the true natural heritage of the city. Otherwise, the recreation center would have been sold a long time ago.”

The first idea was to make it a tool for the promotion of tourism, with outdoor accommodation. When the old Carnot College was renovated, the Atelier des Berges du Gers considered investing in the premises. But not a single project convinced the municipality. “We are demanding, because we don’t want anything at all. It’s like we have a house for sale on the square in front of the cathedral!”

Pending a strong proposal – and City Hall regularly receives bids – the site is being held. “At some point, the community will have to take on the political option of use, whether municipal or private.”

Heritage under supervision

The municipality is keeping a close eye on the Bois d’Auch recreation center. City services make sure that the premises do not become too degraded. Unused, the space has not been renovated, but it is still guarded.
Because the abandoned recreation center is not empty. In one of the houses bordering the buildings, a community worker lives all year round and avoids untimely visits. “We really need to prevent vandalism from adding to the various sources of natural damage and inevitable decay,” warns Auch City Hall’s general manager of services, Sébastien Blanc. This human presence repels any attempt to intrude…”

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